I want to share this quote as it's become a staple for me. Jan Roskam is a well respected aerospace engineer, he was a design professor at KU for much of his career and founded an aerospace consulting firm. I've been told he had a hand in the design of some unique planes such as the Piaggio 180 and Grumman X-29. When I was a senior he taught a fantastic aerospace engineering history course, and that was where I first heard this fantastic line:

"There are no free lunches in engineering."

What does that mean? Engineering and design are all about trade offs. You get nothing for free. For example, composites are lighter and stronger than metal. So why don't we make everything out of them? They are expensive, difficult or impossible to repair, and brittle.

Jason wrote this article about Orion: http://jalopnik.com/this-is-how-to…

He proposes a solution, but as Jan Roskam would say, there are no free lunches in engineering. Jason's solution would involve extra cost, extra weight, and extra complexity versus the baseline mission plan. So while it may seem like a reasonable solution, nothing is that simple.


Next time you question an engineering decision just remember: "there are no free lunches in engineering"